Every once in a while, I see someone shaking their heads in disapproval when they see the weird costumes on the kids at the Homecoming Parade and game. “We didn’t do that sort of thing when I went to school,” they grumble.
They probably think they didn’t, but it’s only because their memory bank doesn’t go back that far.
I was reminded of that this year when I received a disc of pictures that my oldest high school buddy sent me in answer to Christmas cards I sent out to all the remaining senior class members I could find in a recent catalogue.
Reproduced here, this Brownie box camera shot of me on the parking lot of Omaha (Neb.) Central High School in 1938, was produced by George Armstrong a buddy at Dundee Grammar School and Central. It was one of the tamer costumes on the disc and I had little recognition of the events until I started to study it closely.
First, the monocle. It had been given to me by my Dad, who used to write his name on occasion with an umlaut over the “o” and used a “von” preceding it. I needed it for my role as the Russian ballet director in the senior play, “You Can’t Take It With You.”
The formal shirt collar was a cardboard “dickie” from my days in show business at the Omaha and Paramount theaters … when I was an usher and doorman after school. The silk handkerchief was actually an old tie and the football was my six sandwiches and milk I took for lunch each day. George wanted me to pose as a football hero.
We clowned around as much in those days as we do today. The pranks were pretty rowdy at times, too. We usually had the games around Halloween so we could practice new devilry. We used to pull the trolley down from the electric wire which powered the streetcars so they would stop running and the lights would go off.
One homecoming, we had the bright idea of tying a couple of bricks to a rope and hanging it over the power line by throwing one brick over the power line above and evening it so the conductor would stop when he saw it, then we would pull the trolley off.
We were giggling in the bushes in anticipation when the next car came. The conductor didn’t see the bricks as they broke the front window and barely missed his head (praise be to God!). He braked and jumped out and saw us running for our lives to the top of Sommer Bros. grocery store near 49th and Dodge. My buddies went down the other side of the roof, but when I heard sirens I decided to stay put. Wrong decision.
I spent the night in the drunk tank bullpen downtown. A harrowing experience that taught this 16-year-old the value of law and order. Next morning, I told the cops I was hitchhiking through town (it was Depression days) on my way to California. They took me to the edge of town and told me not to come back. I hiked a roundabout way to come home. My folks never knew.
So don’t tell me how weird these kids are. I’ve heard about some of my contemporaries (whose names begin with “S”) who were known as the Dynamite Brothers, and others (whose names begin with “N”) were caught going through the windows of “The Wounded Pig” bar and grill. Maybe they’ve forgotten, but some people haven’t.
I hope you had a happy homecoming, all you Wolverines.
Go with the F.L.O.W. (Ferry Lovers Of Washington)
— Contact Howard Schonberger at 378-5696 or firstname.lastname@example.org